Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Creative Connections Network Winter 2012 Newsletter

(Re-)Introducing the

Creative Connections Network: 

The Creative Connections Network is the alumni group of the International Center for Studies in Creativity. The CCN was revived earlier this year, and we're pleased to roll out out first quarterly newsletter with this Winter 2012 edition.

An introduction to the CCN:

Dr. Cyndi Burnett, CCN Faculty Advisor :
The Creative Connections Alumni Network was started by Hedria Lunken, more than 20 years ago.  Hedria saw the network as a means to provide a professional framework for continued networking and development  for the current students, alumni, staff and faculty of the International Center for Studies in Creativity (ICSC).

Dr. Mary Murdock was the faculty advisor of Creative Connections for many years.  When she became ill, Creative Connections became quiet, and lives became busy (as they do). 

Last year, when the ICSC faculty created their goals and vision, we realized that one of our goals to was to have a robust Alumni Network.  We knew this could be achieved, in part, through our Creativity Expert Exchange conference, but we wanted to create something bigger.  At that point, I volunteered to be the faculty advisor, and began to solicit the alumni community to find interested people who were willing to commit to an initial six month term for reviving the CCN, with the option of continuing on.  Amy, Stavros, Izzy, and Jenna have been very active in propelling this goal forward and I have already seen the connections being made!

Dr. Cyndi Burnett, CCN Faculty Advisor

Amy Frazier, '12, CCN President:
The revival of the CCN comes at a great time for the ICSC. New initiatives, a steadily increasing enrollment, and the forthcoming launch of the PhD program in 2014 all testify to the dynamic growth of our community – and our field. 
In this context, it would seem incredible to not have the sort of robust Alumni Network the faculty envisioned last year. So, speaking on behalf of Stavros, Jenna, Izzy and myself, I will say that we have all been very excited and honored to helm the first several months of the revived CCN. (And a thanks and acknowledgement to Dana Calanan for her early efforts in the position of secretary.)
         Our work since last spring has been to “lay the pipes” –  putting some structure in place so that we may invite your greater participation in the Network. To this end, we have established our mission and governance structure; deployed a “Conference Ambassador” to spread the word at the various creativity conferences; launched a quarterly newsletter under Jenna’s expert guidance and graced by Ana Castelan’s handsome CCN logo design; established the basis for a mentoring framework, as Izzy describes elsewhere; and – in a complex project headed up by Shawn Kassirir – embarked upon the testing phase of an interactive database which we hope will demonstrate the variety of connections existing among alumni as well as stimulate your interest in creating even more connections.
         As we enter into the next phase of the CCN revival, we’re looking for people to serve in a variety of positions – and are eager to know in what ways you might like to contribute. If you’re curious to know more, contact us at

         We look forward to continuing the journey with you, already begun.

Yours in the creative spirit,
 Amy Frazier, CCN President


Building a community of creative leaders.
By Ismet Mamnoon 

The graduate program at the International Center of Studies in Creativity (ICSC) emphasizes creative leadership.  A significant aspect of a leadership role is mentoring.  The Creative Connections Network (CCN) hopes to provide opportunities for alumni and students to connect and benefit from mentoring relationships. 

The benefits of a mentoring program are twofold. The mentored will benefit from the sharing of experience, guidance and collaboration opportunities with their mentor.  The mentors will benefit from the sharing of a reconnection with the ICSC and the recharging of passion by plugging into the energy of a new graduate/student.  Additional benefit for mentors is that this relationship provides a connection to the newest research and developments at the ICSC.

The ICSC currently promotes such meaningful exchanges at a community level through the Creative Experts Exchange.  The CCN hopes to promote connection and exchange at an individual level through the mentoring program.  In order to facilitate the connections in the CCN mentoring program, alumni will be able to create mentoring profiles on the anticipated CCN database.  These profiles would allow the mentor and mentored to find those individuals who have similar areas of expertise and interest.

The CCN will be responsible for providing the platform for making the connections, however the framework for the mentoring relationship will be created by the individuals who wish to connect.  Information for best practices in mentoring relationships will be posted and shared but will simply be provided as guidelines.

ICSC 4.0:

Promoting four generations of creativity scholarship.
By Ted Mallwitz , '12

Current students and alumni comprise the fourth generation of future ICSC scholars or ICSC 4.0. With this in mind, the ICSC 4.0 is focused on promoting the growth of the International Center for Studies in Creativity both internally and externally through the fostering of collaboration, community, and goal setting that creates synergy between our individual goals and the goals of the ICSC. The ICSC 4.0 will begin with a retreat (details to come soon) open to current students, distance students, and alumni in order to set clear goals, gather data, and develop a concrete vision for the future of the ICSC from the student and alumni perspective. Key concept areas include: expansion, branding, collaboration (both in person and virtually), creating opportunities, and the mindful alignment of ICSC faculty goals and our goals. Through these efforts ICSC 4.0 seeks the realization of the growth and unification of our vast and diverse ICSC family.

Interview with Paul Reali on the ICSC Press:

 By Stavros Michailidis, '10 and Paul Reali, '09

Q:  What is ICSC Press?

A: ICSC Press is the new imprint of the International Center for Studies in Creativity (ICSC) at Buffalo State College. Ultimately, the purpose of our press is to support ICSC’s vision: “Igniting creativity around the world: facilitating the recognition that creative thinking is an essential life skill.” 

Q:  Why did the center create ICSC Press?

A:  The ICSC has long been recognized as a clearinghouse for information on the field of creativity. To expand this role, and to more actively disseminate original and rigorous work, the ICSC decided to launch its own imprint. Bypassing traditional publishers will allow the Press to publish works with more discrete audiences, and to get more quickly to market.

Q:  What type of content will ICSC publish?

A: The goal of ICSC Press is to produce high-quality work that contributes to expanding our understanding of creativity and supports effective creativity practices. To accomplish this goal, ICSC Press will serve as a vehicle for members of our community and other creativity professionals to publish and disseminate their original thinking, in book, ebook, and other forms.  One current initiative is to publish a collection of case studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of creative process, Creative Problem Solving, FourSight, and related methodologies and tools.

Q:  Who is the ideal author for ICSC?

A:  The authors best suited to ICSC Press are: ICSC Faculty, ICSC Graduates, CPS and creativity practitioners, and other academics and creativity professionals who want to make a contribution to the field while bypassing the lengthy academic and trade book publishing industry.

Q:  How should interested parties contact you?

Talk: 716-253-1871

Growing the CCN...

Want to become involved in the revival of the CCN? Over the next several months we will be looking for people who would be interested in serving in the following positions. Contact us at to learn more.

Current Creative Connections Network Leadership Team

Amy Frazier, President
Stavros Michailidis, Vice President
Jenna Smith, Secretary
Ismet Mamnoon, Treasurer
Dr. Cyndi Burnett, Faculty Advisor

Open Positions

A liaison to the membership community.
A coordinator of technology for CCN, including database and website.
Professional Development
A steward for opportunities and the development of programs.
A central point of contact and messaging.
Special Projects
A dedicated person for trying new things, such as community outreach, funding sources, etc.h

Creative Class Notes

Liz Aebersold '11 recently keynoted at the Project Management Institute Seattle Chapter on the need for Project Managers to be catalysts for creativity and change.  Liz teaches in the UT Austin Executive Education program in the School of Engineering on Creativity, Innovation and Leadership.

Chris Grivas '99 ICSC Graduate and co-author of "The Innovative Team" has recently had pieces related to his book published in Training Magazine,, Fast Company Magazine, and among others.

Marta Davidovich Ockuly  '11 and eminent creativity researcher Dr. Ruth Richards were invited to present the results of the research study they co-authored titled: “How Do You Define Creativity?" at the 120th Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association in Orlando, FL, August 3, 2012.  Link to the presentation is here.

Erik op ten Berg '12 served as a creativity expert at the opening show of the ConceptLab at the Dutch Design Week, where design students competed to create new products for smart houses, during three days situated in a glass house.  Erik also shared best practices for accelerating the creative process, amid chaos in the house!

Nathan Schwagler '08 is currently serving the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg College of Business as: "Creative in Residence", and as an Instructor of Entrepreneurship. Recent accomplishments include mentoring a team of students to a 1st place finish in a national entrepreneurship competition.

Marci Segal '01  was recently named a futurist by the World Future Society and invited to present at their 2013 conference in Miami on "What humanity will be like in the year 2100." She also led a pre-conference session at the 2012 WFS conference, "Human Dynamics of Creating" with Megan Mitchell. 

Got a Creative Class Note to share? We'd love to publish it! Send info to 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Tools: Transform your problems into courage, confidence, and creativity. A Book Review by Graduate Student Ian Rosenfeldt.

I came across The Tools in the Cultural Studies section of the bookstore. After flipping through, it looked appealing enough to investigate. The premise is straightforward - outlining five tools to be used to develop one’s self actualization. It occurred to me that there are plenty of cognitive tools to guide creative thinking and yet I hadn’t come across many whose purpose was to guide our thoughts so as to optimize our mindset for creative thinking. How do we suspend judgement? How do we accept opinions even if we disagree with them? Since the elements of courage and confidence are fundamental to developing creativity, perhaps The Tools, developed by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels, would show a path to do just that and more?

Chapter one is written in call-and-response style from each author. One talks about his experience as a psychotherapist, encountering challenges with patients and looking for answers himself. The other talks about being approached by a young patient who was searching for answers. Not to why she thought the way she did, but on how to change her way of thinking. This led Barry Michels on his own quest to find tools that could do just that. The historical perspective on how the authors came to be acquainted with each other and the Tools made for an easy an engaging read and heightened my anticipation for more.

The tools are a way to bring positivity to your consciousness and to connect you to something called the Higher Power (and yes, it’s capitalized in the book). When first reading about the Higher Power, skepticism came naturally. The authors invite skepticism and ask only for one thing - for the reader to practice the tools. Given that simple request, I read on with an open mind, curious about what lay behind these Higher Powers. By inviting skepticism, the reader is forced to examine the book from deeper perspectives, to be open minded and yet look for cracks in the process.

Each of the next five chapters, one for each of the tools, starts with a story from their experiences - giving personality and context to allow the reader to identify with. They present situations that would prompt you to use the tool, the higher force that you will connect with, the process on how to use the tool (with simple illustrations), how the tool works and what the benefits are. The authors also address frequently asked questions they’ve had for each tool before ending off with a summary. This layout works very well. As I progressed through each chapter, I was trying to identify how I would use each tool. As each chapter summary drew near, there were additional examples given and alternative uses offered. Many of my own questions were addressed.

Thus far, I was grateful for finding The Tools and yet, the chapter on Higher Power was yet to come and my skepticism alarm started to chime. Turns out the Higher Power is not meant as a concept to challenge or replace anyone’s god, religion or spiritual belief. It offers a way of explaining how the power of happiness and confidence is actually a never ending well that we can tap into...only it comes from inside of us and not from external sources. To paraphrase the authors - these tools are a means of defeating inner enemies, using the weapons that enable us to believe in and experience higher forces without sacrificing our mental freedom to anyone or anything.

Despite my skepticism, I realized that the perspective presented isn’t revolutionary or even that scary. What is unique about this book is how the tools and this unique perspective of Higher Powers are presented, in an easily digestible way with simple and plain language that is not steeped with cultural, religious or spiritual dressings.  I found its simplicity and presentation refreshing, and after some short term practice I can say that these tools have had a positive impact on me. More practice is in the cards, most definitely.

The concluding chapter espouses practice and has us consider what might happen if more and more people tapped into these Higher Powers - how we as a society could benefit from the resulting positivity. One theme underscoring the entire book is that Western society is hell bent on consumption as a route to happiness, as if the latest and greatest will allows us to harness our creativity and confidence even better than before. What Stutz and Michels stress, however, is that along with developing a more positive mindset we each have the limitless power to develop our own creative selves. In effect, creating is more powerful than consuming.

Reading between the lines, it is not a far cry to draw connections to humanistic psychologists such as Rollo May or Abraham Maslow. The field of positive psychology is there as well, with the elements of motivation that could have easily referenced Teresa Amabile and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and even psychologist Viktor Frankl.

The tools seem like mantras, images and stories to be repeated and experienced repeatedly in one’s head. What is most interesting is that we’re not being told what specific images to use (i.e. not of someone else's creation) but scenarios to create ourselves, based on our own experiences, insecurities, goals and wishes. It takes imagination to visualize these future scenarios and The Tools calls upon our metacognitive efforts to practice them.

The authors mainly draw upon their experiences as psychotherapists in developing these tools. It was disconcerting as a reader to have no references to draw upon, and yet a core tenant of the book is that having faith in a process despite not being able to prove it, doesn’t detract from its effectiveness. Getting through the book is pretty easy, so I encourage a temporary suspension of judgement while you read it. Once through the book, having gained an understanding of the tools themselves, the concept of Higher Powers may be easier to digest and reformulate in a way that makes more sense to you.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is craving an infusion of fresh perspective to their stale inner dialogue. If you’re looking for techniques to be used to top up your positivity, courage and confidence then The Tools is worth further investigation.

About Ian
Ian is an energizing facilitator of deliberate creativity, team training and Creative Problem Solving. He is a specialist in coaching for success, providing the tools to optimize creative thinking and facilitating diverse groups through their unique challenges.
Ian is a current Masters student at Buffalo State College, studying creativity, innovation and change leadership. He pursues optimal experience in the mountains (not often enough), on bikes of all sorts and behind two turntables. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Book Review: Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work By Steven Pressfield

Description: Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life's Work

Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work By Steven Pressfield

Pressfield, S. (2012). Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work. New York: Black Irish Entertainment, LLC.

Would-be rockers might argue Born to Run is one of the greatest albums of all time; easily Bruce Springsteen’s opus. This marked the turning point in his career when he made the decision to commit his energy and talent to the universe.  Indeed, some of the most haunting and powerful lyrics on the album lie in the song Thunder Road, “the door is open but the ride, it ain’t free.”  According to the boss himself, “so this was my big invitation to my audience, to myself, to anybody who was interested.  My invitation to a long and earthly, very earthly, journey.  Hopefully in the company of someone you love, people you love, and in search of a home you can feel a part of” (Springsteen, 2005). 
Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield, is a non-fiction book about the seminal moment when an individual makes, what Pressfield calls, “a monumental, life-overturning decision” (Pressfield, p. 5).  In other words, the moment one makes the decision to stop fooling around, to become the creative person he was born to be; the point in which one draws a line in the sand. Springsteen’s storytelling encapsulates Pressfield’s thesis regarding why some individuals are able to embrace their true creative calling in life, while others merely tip- toe along the edges, seeking distractions to silence that tiny voice inside. It’s not easy to turn pro.  Yet at the same time, it’s much more difficult, and mentally painful not to.
Reading Turning Pro is not about identifying a true calling. Pressfield asserts that for the amateur it’s already there, hiding under the surface. Rather, Pressfield suggests there is a stark difference between the amateur and the professional and dedicates the book comparing and contrasting the mindset and behaviors of the two archetypes. He purports turning pro – consciously leaving the amateur behind – represents a model for self-transformation (Pressfield, p. 5).   
Self-transformation begins by acknowledging and pushing through what Pressfield terms, “resistance,” a force of fear, self-doubt and self-sabotage.  The amateur allows resistance to stymie creativity, by providing all too tempting distractions.  For some it might be addictions to food, alcohol or even making money.  To others, resistance takes the form of the need for instant gratification or the approval of others.  According to Pressfield, “addictions take on two primary characteristics: they embody repetition without progress and they produce incapacity as a payoff.”  Addictions are boring; they travel in a repetitious circle that goes nowhere.  “We are stuck in the same endlessly repeating loop. That’s what makes addiction like hell” (Pressfield, p. 34).  
The professional faces the same types of resistance; the difference being he recognizes it for what it is and has committed to stepping through it. Being a professional is an act of courage. “The professional knows that in the course of her pursuit, she will inevitably experience moments of terror, even panic. She knows she can’t choke that back or wish it way. It’s there, it’s for real.”  (Pressfield, p. 123).
The Pressfield suggests the professional gets to this place because of a commitment to mastery, to leaving the trappings of the amateur. Turning Pro is not easy. Turning Pro means, in a sense, growing up, leaving youth (metaphorically) behind.  It may necessitate finding a new set of friends, a new career, a new way of life.  In other words, “the ride, it ain’t free.”  Old, comforting habits must be jettisoned.
The book has a touch of “zen.” Turning professional leads to a more spiritual place with one’s art (however defined), by finding one’s personal power. Ironically, turning pro is not easy, but being pro is. Pressfield (p. 90 – 91) does a wonderful job of bluntly stating the qualities of the professional, who:
·       Shows up everyday
·       Stays on the job all day
·       Is committed over the long haul
·       Knows the stakes are high and real
·       Is patient
·       Seeks order
·       Demystifies
·       Acts in the face of fear
·       Accepts no excuses
·       Plays it as it lays
·       Is prepared
·       Does not show off
·       Dedicates himself to mastering technique
·       Does not hesitate to ask for help
·       Does not take failure or success personally
·       Does not identify with his instrument
·       Endures adversity
·       Self-validates
·       Reinvents herself
·       Is recognized by other professionals

In Summary – Relationship To Creativity
Turning Pro is not a guide to finding one’s artistic (big C, little c) calling.  For this type of personal journey, I recommend Sir Ken Robinson’s, “The Element.” Dr. Robinson asserts The Element is found at the intersection of natural aptitude and personal passion (Robinson, p 21). Pressfield targets the individual who hears his calling yet is scared to act. The person who may, on a conscious or sub-conscious level, know the pain of not changing is greater than the pain of changing. 
As students of creativity, Pressfield lays out the very simple choice – we can sit on the sidelines and dabble in Creative Problem Solving and creative leadership or fight our way into the game, grab the ball and run like heck to the goal post.  We must choose to lead creatively.  We must declare ourselves creative leaders and own it.
The book is a quick, yet powerful read that I found to be very self-motivating. It has evolved my thinking on creativity, offering insight regarding the blocks to creative commitment. For readers, the idea of naming the force of resistance and identifying it on a personal level might evoke a new level of self-awareness, leading to self-transformation.  
Those interested in the concept of resistance and its relationship to developing one’s creative calling should consider reading Pressfield’s 2002 work, The War of Art.

About the Author
Steven Pressfield is the author of Gates of Fire, Tides of War, The Afghan Campaign, The Profession, The Warrior Ethos and The War of Art.


Aronica, L., and Robinson, K. (2009). The Element: how finding your passion
changes everything. New York: Penguin Group.

Robinson, K., and Aronica, L. (2009). The Element: how finding your passion
            changes everything. New York: Penguin Group.

Springsteen, B. (1975). Born to Run. New Yor: Columbia Records.

VH1 (April, 23, 2005). Storytellers: Bruce Springsteen. Distributed by Viacom

Alison Murphy – Biographical Sketch 
Alison Murphy is a founding partner of Murphy Marketing Research/TRENDTOWN, an insights consulting firm dedicated to applying creativity tools to traditional market research methods. Alison and her husband, Tom, formed the company 18 years ago and employ six professionals.  Throughout her career, Alison has worked with Fortune 100 consumer and business-to-business organizations.  She works closely with clients including Grainger, Allstate Insurance and Revlon to gain insight, identify customer needs and develop new products and marketing and advertising programs.  
Areas of expertise include developing innovative and creative methodologies for capturing consumer insights on deeper, more emotive levels and facilitating ideation and brainstorming sessions.  Throughout her career, she has moderated hundreds (and hundreds) of focus groups.  
A specific area of accomplishment is MMR/TT’s Sparks® ideation program that features a panel of over 400 creative consumers who brainstorm new products for leading manufacturers.   In 2012, the Sparks® program won a coveted Ogilvy Award for Innovation Excellence and in 2009, MMR/TT’s Sparks® program was awarded the Milwaukee Small Business Times IQ (Innovation Quotient) Award.  
Prior to forming MMR/TT, Alison worked for several leading advertising agencies in Chicago and Milwaukee and held the position of Market Research Director for Stokely USA, a division of Del Monte.  She holds a BA from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and an MA from Marquette University. 
As a life-long student, Alison is currently completing a Master of Science degree in Creative Studies and Change Leadership through SUNY New York.  She attends the annual Creative Problem Solving Institute (CPSI) sponsored by the Creative Education Foundation.  She is very active in the Qualitative Research Consultant’s Association, having served on the Board of Directors as Vice President for this global, 1,000 member organization.    In addition, she is involved in the PTA for her son’s high school and conducts strategic planning sessions for the school board. 
She’s a passionate bread baker (no bread machines allowed!) and recently won a blue ribbon for her Jackson Harbor Killer brownies at the Washington Island fair. 

Contact: Alison Murphy
Murphy Marketing Research/TRENDTOWN
161 North Green Bay Road
Thiensville, Wisconsin 53092
262-236-0194 ext. 229